Make Your Outdoor Space Wildlife-Friendly

As we take the time to make ourselves more comfortable during the heat of the summer, we can do the same for the wildlife around us.

Krys Hammers, president of the Desert Rivers Audubon Society, explains that it is important to do so because “as cities grow and sprawl, we are taking up much of that habitat that used to be available to wildlife.”

Helping out our animal neighbors does not have to be a big chore. In fact, Hammers believes that we can “live in harmony” with the wildlife, birds in particular, and provides insight on how to do so. She explains that animals need food, shelter and water for survival. By avoiding over-pruning, we can provide “food from blooms and seeds on our plants.”

Hummingbirds love the flowers and use them to drink nectar. Luscious plants also create a natural shelter for the wildlife. Hammers adds that “songbirds like to have bushy plants for shelter and leaf litter to scratch around in for bugs.”

Also be sure to check out local stores, such as Wild Birds Unlimited, for more ways to feed your bird guests. It is important for animals to have ample access to water, especially in the Arizona desert. To help the wildlife, Hammers suggests implementing into your yard a  bird bath, mister or anything that makes water available. She warns that water can attract mosquitos, but this can be easily prevented by making sure that the water is moving. Hammers also recommends looking for products with water recycling features, as to avoid waste.

In helping the wildlife to have a friendly-home, you will see benefits of your own. Hammers explains that “if we plant our yards with native plants to attract native wildlife, we use less water, which is such a precious resource in the desert.”

This is not only a financial asset by lowering our water bills, but also helps the community prosper as it saves water for “future generations and [keeps] our rivers flowing.” She further explains that because animals prefer the plants to not be over-pruned, we face much less maintenance. Finally, wildlife-friendly homes enjoy the beauty that comes with having lush plants and frequent animal visitors. Hammers remarks that birds add lovely color and music to gardens and “their antics can be quite captivating.”

To learn more about how you can make your home more welcoming to the birds and other creatures around us, visit the fourth annual Tour de Bird on Nov. 5, an event held by Desert Rivers Audubon in conjunction with the Environmental Education Center (EEC) at Veterans Oasis Park. You will have the chance to see some of the best “bird-friendly gardens” in the community. Hammers’ yard has previously been featured and will once again be on the tour this year. She explains that the purpose of this tour is “to demonstrate that you can have an attractive yard with native plants that is low maintenance and attracts wildlife using all these principles.”  You can purchase tickets for $15 or $10 if you buy them online at Desertriversaudubon.org.

The EEC also offers classes on making your home wildlife friendly and a beginner’s bird class, both taught by Hammers. To sign up for these classes or to lean more information, you can visit the EEC or simply go to ChandlerAZ.gov/recreation. Chandler residents can register beginning Aug. 6 and non-residents can register starting Aug. 12.